(HIRA in 1923)

IJN River Gunboat HIRA:
Tabular Record of Movement

©2010-2015 Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp
Revision 2

17 February 1921:
A projected second class river gunboat is named HIRA.

15 August 1921:
Kobe. Laid down at Mitsubishi Zosensho as a 340-ton river gunboat.

14 March 1923:

20 January 1923:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Suzuki Kozo (36) is appointed Chief Equipping Officer (CEO).

24 August 1923:
Completed. Disassembled and shipped to Hankow, China. [1]

E September 1923:
HIRA probably arrives at Hankow.Reassembled, tested and completed at Yangtze Engineering Co.

E 8 September 1923:
IJN HIRA departs Hankow towards Wanhsien, China.

11 September 1923:
Wanhsien, China. At 1545, IJN HIRA arrives from down river. At 1600, HIRA's captain pays an official visit to the captain of the British Insect-class river gunboat HMS COCKCHAFER at anchor.

12 September 1923:
At 0550, HIRA departs towards Shanghai, about 2,500 miles up river.

E 20 September 1923:
Shanghai. HIRA probably arrives.

1 December 1923:
LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Kobayashi Masami (38) is appointed Commanding Officer.

6 January 1925:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Miura Tomosaburo (38) is appointed CO.

15 June 1926:
An unknown officer is appointed CO.

20 June 1927:
LtCdr (later Vice Admiral) Hirose Sueto (39) is appointed CO.

30 November 1929:
Lt Cdr (later Vice Admiral) Maeda Minoru (41) is appointed CO.

1 May 1930:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Yamazumi Teijiro (44) is appointed CO.

8 September 1931: The "Mukden Incident":
Liutiaohu, about 25 miles from Mukden (now Shenyang), the capital of Manchuria. Japanese soldiers detonate an explosive on the Japanese-owned Southern Manchurian Railway. Chinese soldiers retaliate with gunfire. The Japanese Kwantung Army reinforces their troops and settles the conflict. The Japanese continue N to Mukden, attack the city and win control the next day. The “Mukden Incident” is the beginning of the Pacific War.

1 April 1932:
An unknown officer is appointed CO.

20 October 1933:
LtCdr (later Rear Admiral) Itakura Tokushi (42) is appointed CO.

15 November 1934:
Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Oda Tamekiyo (43) is appointed CO.

15 November 1935:
An unknown officer is appointed CO.

7 July 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge (The"First China Incident") Incident:
Hun River, Lukuokiao (Peking), China. Japanese troops at the bridge fire blank cartridges during night maneuvers. Chinese troops fire back. Later, the Japanese discover a soldier missing. They demand entry to the Peking (Beijing) suburb of Wanping to look for him, but the Chinese refuse. The Japanese shell the city and an undeclared war on China begins.

July 1937:
Japanese residents in the Yangtze River area are guarded by Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Tanimoto Umataro's 11th Gunboat Division. HIRA is based in Chungking.

12 November 1937:
Shanghai is captured.

13 December 1937:
Rear Admiral (later Vice Admiral) Kondo Eijiro’s (36)(former CO of KAGA) 11th squadron heads to Xiaguan led by gunboat ATAKA. The squadron returns fire against blistering attacks from Liu Zijiang’s trenches. Gunboats HOZO and SETA are in front and ATAKA, gunboat HIRA and main force destroyers KAWAKAZE and SUZUKAZE follow. The Yangtze River and its riversides are full of routed Chinese boats and rafts. Each gunboat attacks them.

25 September 1939:
Cdr (later Rear Admiral) Kubota Toshi (46) is appointed CO.

15 October 1940:
An unknown officer is appointed CO.

December 1941:
Attached to the First China Expeditionary Fleet, China Area Fleet.

31 May 1943:
Upriver from Hankow, Yangtze River. HIRA is attacked by several USAAF Fourteenth Air Force P-40´s fighter-bombers and hit in engine room, boiler room, compass bridge, upper part of bridge, midships upper deck and crew spaces, unnavigable, 8 crew KIA including her CO Cdr Sakamoto Tsuneo. Two other crewmen are seriously wounded.

June-July 1943:
Shanghai. Undergoes battle-damage repairs at Kiangnan (Konan) Engineering and Dock Works.

20 August 1943:
Attached to the Yangtze Special Base Force, China Area Fleet.

17 August 1944:
HIRA is damaged by unidentified USAAF Fourteenth Air Force fighter-bombers at Kiukiang, China.

26 November 1944:
Yangtze River. HIRA and sister HOZU run aground in shallow water. Chinese planes bomb and severely damage HIRA and sink HOZU near Anking at about 30-30N, 117-00E.

Spring 1945:
Dismantled for scrap.

10 May 1945:
Removed from Navy List.

Author's Notes:
[1] Because the draft of this type of boat was so shallow, even when the seas were a little high, there was a great danger of turning over, so it was transported disassembled and re-assembled at its operating locale.

Thanks go to Matthew Jones for help in identifying COs and to Erich Muehlthaler of Germany for info in Rev 1. Thanks go to reader Dorbel for info in Rev 2 about HMS COCKCHAFER.

-Bob Hackett and Sander Kingsepp

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